According to a study released online on August 18, 2021, by Neurology®, immigrants to Canada experience stroke incidence rates that are 33 percent lower than those of long-term residents (Vyas et al., 2021). The American Academy of Neurology publishes Neurology® as its official medical publication.
The study’s author and member of the American Academy of Neurology, Manav V. Vyas, MBBS, MSc, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto, stated that previous research has demonstrated that immigrants typically have better health than long-term locals. This is believed to be the case since healthy individuals are more likely to choose immigration. We wanted to determine if studies that have revealed decreased rates of cancer and heart attacks among immigrants also held for stroke.
For the study, eight million residents of Ontario, Canada, on January 1, 2003, and had no prior history of suffering a stroke or a transient ischemic attack, often known as a mini-stroke, had their medical histories investigated. One-fifth of those individuals were immigrants. In contrast to refugees or people joining family members, the vast majority of new newcomers were considered economic immigrants. When the census was performed, immigrants had been residing in Ontario for an average of nine years.
The subjects were observed for a total of fifteen years, on average. There were 235,336 cases of stroke or TIA over that time, with immigrants experiencing them at a rate of 1.5% while long-term residents experienced them at a rate of 3.2%. The incidence rate among immigrants was 10.9 instances for every 10,000 person-years. In contrast, the rate among long-term residents was 23.4 cases for every 10,000 person-years when considering the number of participants and the length of time spent participating in the study.
Even after controlling for variables like age, sex, and medical disorders like high blood pressure and diabetes, researchers discovered that immigrants had a 33 percent lower risk of stroke than long-term residents. Additionally, stroke deaths were less common among immigrants.
The results varied according to a number of factors, including age, the nation from which immigrants came, and the immigration class they belonged to. When compared to long-term residents and immigrants who were older than 50 when they entered the country, stroke risk was lower among those who immigrated when they were younger than 25.
The difference between the frequency of strokes among refugees and individuals who had moved for reasons connected to their employment or families was less pronounced. People who immigrated from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America suffered stroke rates that were less different from long-term residents than immigrants from other parts of the world.
These findings may help in the development of targeted preventive strategies to reduce the incidence of stroke in both newcomers and long-term residents, according to Vyas. Compared to long-term residents, “both groups are at a higher risk of stroke.” Future research should look at the factors mediating this effect and why immigrants have a lower risk of stroke.
A limitation of the study was that immigrants were defined as people who entered Ontario after 1985; as a result, the findings only apply to individuals who entered the nation in the past three decades.
The research was supported by money from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.